Monday, March 14, 2011


17th March.....

St. Patrick’s Day was first observed in Boston in 1737 by Irish immigrants, not in Ireland as one would imagine!

Paddy was too busy ridding Ireland of snakes to party! His thoughtless actions impress me not, to be sure! Not having the good manners to ask us if we wanted them, he expelled all the Emerald Isle’s snakes to our shores! It isn’t what I’d call a saintly act! Erroneously Patrick gave no thought to his careless tactic - extremely antagonistic! You can’t even blame the Irish sense of humour for such an antic! Patrick wasn’t Irish! Therein folks the problem does recline!

Paddy, prove your goodwill is genuine! A favour is owed! Come on Down Under, Paddy! Repeat the deed once again, but in reverse this time! Paddy, me lad! Another miracle is overdue!

I’ll even throw a barbecue! Not at you (although I should), but in your honour! It’ll be on the house - well, on the verandah! I dislike heights almost as much as I abhor snakes!

The Irish were slow off the mark in giving you a party, Paddy! It surely was a long time between drinks from the 400s until 1737! This surprises me! Such a lengthy delay is out of character for the Irish!

Not to Harp on it, but perhaps Jameson Whiskey had to come of age first! Couldn’t Cooper find enough trees to lop to make the barrels? Was old Guinness so stout he needed to trim down before celebrations could begin? Maybe Mulligan was too busy practicing his golf swing (golfers will understand), or “Col Cannon” was too engrossed in pickling his cabbage and shallots in cream before tossing in dollops of butter at completion to consider wasting his energy on frivolous pastimes? Whatever the reasons, the Irish worldwide (and those who become Irish for this one day of the year) have since made up for the lack of celebrations prior to those conceived by the Bostonian-Irish who swilled swags of Smithwick’s and kicked up their heels in an inaugural jig!

One day celebrating old Paddy I added green mashed potatoes to the restaurant menu. When presented with his meal an excited little boy’s eyes lit up like beacons. Upon taking his first mouthful, his eyes sprung open in shocked horror! His naïve expectations were crushed by one foul morsel! He’d thought it was lime ice-cream, the poor misguided little tyke!

It was his introduction to life’s disappointments! He had to start somewhere! Happy to oblige!

Never iron a four-leaf clover; you don’t want to press your luck!

Back-To-Front Irish Beef Kebabs: Cut 1kg beef into cubes; heat oil in pan; add beef; add 2 tbls plain flour, 20 whole garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Add onions, cut into eighths. Cook until onions are translucent and beef browned. Add 1 can of Guinness and 2tbls tomato puree. Place in 175C oven, 15mins or so. Skewer cooked beef, onions and garlic. Serve with Green Goddess dressing/dip – blend 1/2c mayo, 1/2c sour cream, 1/4c chopped shallots, 2tbl chopped chives, 2tbls chopped parsley, 1tbl anchovy paste, 1tbl lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Cabbage Nests: Boil whole cabbage leaves until just limp; remove; dip into cold water; dry. Prepare mashed spuds; add cooked, crisp bacon pieces, crushed garlic, grated cheese and chopped shallots. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners; spray with oil; wrap cabbage inside liners to form a nest; cut smaller piece of cabbage; lay on bottom of liner; add mashed spuds; sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake at 175C until crispy.

Guinness Honey-Glazed Pork: Put 300ml Guinness, 100ml honey and 250g brown sugar in pan; reduce to almost half to a syrupy glaze; cool. Season 2kg skinless, boneless loin pork; roast 20mins at 180C; reduce heat 140C. Remove pork from oven; brush with most of the glaze; cook 40-50mins; baste. Remove from oven; rest. Pour remaining glaze into pan; add splash of white wine or water; boil; simmer 4-5mins. Serve pork slices on colcannon; top with syrup.

Irish Eyes: Shake with ice, 30ml Irish Whiskey, 10ml Crème de Menthe, 60ml cream; garnish with Maraschino cherries. The Shamrock: Mix ½ shot Irish whiskey, 1 shot of Vermouth, 3 dashes each Crème de Menthe and Green Chartreuse.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Up behind my childhood home in Gympie was a magical garden overrun with emus, kangaroos, koalas and other iconic Aussie creatures - Warnie excluded! (For those who may not know who "Warnie" is - he's an Aussie ex-top cricketer whose latest

Gympie is a hilly town; the property mentioned nestled snugly on the side of a hill “up behind” our place; we weren’t in a gully, but were situated on a lesser incline, one street over. The garden art, topiary, was the result of the creative mind and skillful hands of Pat Rafter’s grandfather. Pat’s mother, Jocelyn and her brother Lloyd played “cowboys and Indians” and “cops and robbers” amongst their mystical landscape. Throughout my first year of high school my heart fluttered like a butterfly when Lloyd passed by. He was (still is) a few years older than I. In my active childish imagination (it’s still actively childish) he looked like Audie Murphy with a Tony Curtis twist. Fringed by lush black lashes his arrestingly attractive eyes were not unlike those of the young Curtis! He was what one calls “pretty”, but in a decidedly boyish way! How did I jump on board this rambling, rattling train of thought? Special meals I remember started it; not that you would’ve guessed! My mind frequently meanders in mysterious, questionable ways! I’ve enjoyed some unforgettable meals; one of which was a sumptuous roast pork repast in 1975; a piece of shoulder pork, as sweet, juicy, tasty and tender as fresh crabmeat! Another was a splendid plump rump steak feast my brother and I shared 1994 when I called Townsville home. King Island rump - so tender it could be cut with a fork! I dare to pronounce it was the best steak I’ve ever had! I salivate still at its memory! With mouths agape and accompanying “ooohs” and “aahhs”, we savoured the moment before attacking our meal with lustful gusto. The best mud crab feast I’ve had (and I’ve had many) was beneath a sparkling starlit tropical sky with the tray of the Hinchinbrook ute as our table! Unashamedly unladylike with crab juices running down my chin and icy Heinekens nearby, paradise was within reach! Dougie, a pro-fisherman from whom I bought barra, mackerel and muddies gifted me, for my personal consumption, six large, full bucks! My chef cooked them for me – a treat in itself! Bernie, one of my staff joined me in the “muddy-green grenade” demolition! My fourth birthday cake holds a unique position of historical importance for me - an ice-cream cake! The moment remains vivid when, with a smile on her lovely face and her rich auburn hair in a fashionable coiffure, my mother appeared before me bearing my surprise! Do we own our memories or do they own us?

Bestest-Ever Rump: Marinade:- 1/2c olive oil, 1tbl grated ginger, 2 crushed garlic cloves, a dash each of soy and Worcestershire sauce and 1tsp seeded mustard; add 2 thick rump steaks; marinate 1-2 hours. Drain; grill or pan-fry as desired. Rest steak on warm plate; cover with foil. Sauté a handful of halved Swiss Brown mushrooms in butter; add 2tbls each thyme, chopped garlic, chives and shallots; add splash of white wine or brandy; add some marinade to the pan; reduce by half; add 1/2c cream; cook 2-3mins. Serve with tossed salad and mashed garlic potatoes. Cider Vinegar Pork: Place casserole on high heat; add 5g butter and 1tbl oil. Brown 900g 2.5cm cubes of pork shoulder, a few at a time. Add another 5g butter and 1tbl oil to casserole; add 12 pearl onions; brown; add 150ml cider vinegar; stir, scraping base and sides; return meat/onions; add 4 thyme sprigs and 1 bay leaves; season; simmer; transfer uncovered to 170C oven - 1-1/4hr. Remove pork and onions; toss herbs; put casserole on heat; reduce liquid to half; whisk in 1.5tbls sour cream; add pork. Choccy-Treat Ice-Cream Cake: Leave 1lt vanilla ice-cream at room temp, 10mins. Chop 1 Mars Bar, 1 Cherry Ripe and 1 Violet Crumble bar into pieces in bowl; add ice-cream; mix well; spoon into round non-stick cake tin; freeze. Invert onto plate; decorate with grated chocolate, glacé cherries and crumbled honeycomb. Lee George